Georgia hunter Zak Avery is not your typical hunter. He overcame a liver transplant in mid-August and still made his way outside on the opening day of deer season.
It was back in April that Zak Avery first found out he had liver damage after a hernia repair surgery. A financial advisor in Pine Ridge, Avery also learned that he possessed a rare genetic disorder that can also lead to liver failure called AAT deficiency. These circumstances left him in and out of the hospital until mid-August when he had to go to the ICU.
“I was put on a regional list for transplant that Friday, and by Sunday I was on the national list,” Avery told Field and Stream. “My liver was failing so quickly that a transplant was pretty much the only option.”
Obviously, the wait time for a liver transplant can vary greatly depending on several factors. But Avery’s situation was dire, and the hospital was able to match him with a donor very quickly. As a result, the liver transplant was completed on August 17. As soon as he was out of the hospital, Avery set his sights on one thing and one thing only — getting ready for the opening day of deer season.
“You’ve got to have a goal,” he said. “My immediate goal was to get out of bed, to take a step. But then I needed another goal, something to work for, and I said, ‘I’m going to hunt on opening day.’ That was the driver I had to get up and walk every single morning, every day at noon, and every evening, even when it hurt like hell.”
Georgia Hunter Has Always Had a Lifelong Passion for Hunting
Hunting is evidently just in the blood of Zak Avery. He grew up on his family farm and quickly developed a passion for hunting along with his friends.
“Deer hunting, in general, is really important to us,” Avery admitted. “It’s not just a during-the-season kind of deal — it’s a year-round deal. From feeding deer to running cameras and doing surveys in the summer, we’re pretty committed. And just being out in the woods is relaxing and peaceful.”
That outlook had to make things all the better when his plan came together on opening day. On September 11, Avery met up with some of his friends in the deer blind. And finally, after a couple of hours of waiting patiently, a beautiful 10-point buck crossed right in front of him and Avery took the shot.
“I was really fired up and excited at first, and then it all kind of started sinking in,” he said. “Anybody who hunts knows you put these plans together and no matter how good you have it laid out, it almost never works. To have a plan come together almost perfectly is really rare when you’re hunting, and this one did.”